A Zimbabwean woman, Lady Memory Mutsika, has been sentenced to three years in a South African prison for theft of church tithes and offering.
The Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in South Africa convicted her on Wednesday, November 9, for 128 counts of theft.
The 43-year-old was a church treasurer of the Pretoria City Seventh-Day Adventist church and her duties included taking tithe and offering money deposited to the church account and transferring it to the Northern Conference of the church.
Mutsika was said to have transferred more than R800 000 of the money to her bank account within a period of four years, from 2012 to 2015, for her personal use.
She pleaded guilty to the charges in court and asked for a non-custodial sentence to pay the church back the money over a five-year duration.
The state told the court that Mutsika always indicated willingness to pay back the money but has not refunded any amount since March 2022, after she was arraigned and sentenced.
The magistrate agreed with the state that Mutsika showed no remorse, hence her plea was denied.
He said; ”She stopped stealing not because of her conscience, but because she was caught. The church placed her in a position of trust, but she betrayed that trust.”
He further said that he viewed Mutsika’s willingness to pay back the money, as a bargaining tool and as a ticket to keep her out of prison. Therefore, a sentence of imprisonment was appropriate and criminal conduct has consequences.